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Last Updated: Friday, 27 May, 2005, 06:14 GMT 07:14 UK
Benitez to launch new Anfield era
Rafa Benitez with the European Cup
Rafa Benitez with the European Cup
Rafael Benitez is ready to break up his Champions League winning team as he looks to begin a new Liverpool dynasty.

Benitez is believed to be closing in on Villarreal goalkeeper Jose Reina and Steven Gerrard looks set to sign a new deal, but several others are set to go.

"Steven Gerrard is a key player for us, along with Xabi Alonso, Luis Garcia, Fernando Morientes, Jamie Carragher and Sami Hyypia," said Benitez.

"We've a lot of good players but we need to find more to improve the team."

Benitez will now begin to focus on his preparations for next season with the official celebrations for Liverpool's incredible win over.

The Spaniard will be backed in financial terms after the club earned more than 30m from winning the Champions League and he will look to invest heavily in his squad.

Reina's potential arrival could spell the exit for Jerzy Dudek, the hero of the penalty shoot-out in Istanbul, even though the Poland international is vowing to fight for his place next season.

Vladimir Smicer and Dietmar Hamann are also out of contract this summer and look to be heading for new clubs despite their integral parts in the comeback against AC Milan.

Speculation also continues to surround the future of Milan Baros and Igor Biscan, while Benitez knows that he must strengthen his overall squad to stage more of a Premiership challenge next season.

Champions League success at least should help to attract new players, although the prospect of defending the trophy next season would be crucial if Uefa were to change their minds.

Gerrard's apparent decision to stay put is also key to the club's fortunes, with defender Hyypia welcoming the midfielder's declaration of loyalty.

Hyypia declared: "It's great news for the club that one of the best players looks like he's now staying. I think he has made a very good decision."




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